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How to Prepare for Your First Cruise

If you’re a first-time cruiser or haven’t cruised in a while, you’re probably wondering how to prepare for a cruise.

Cruise vacations are unique in that they require much less preparation than a land-based vacation. You don’t have to hunt for the best restaurants to eat at, look for reputable tour providers, or come up with ways to entertain the group–it’s all on the ship for you.

Discover how to prepare for your first cruise with these tips.

Make Sure Your Travel Documents Are In Order

Man holding USA passport

If you’re traveling to an international destination, it’s always a good idea to cruise with a passport, even if it’s not required for the ports you’ll visit. Should you need to book an unexpected flight home during your cruise, it will be much easier to do so if you have a passport.

Make sure that your passport isn’t expired and is valid for at least six months after your cruise ends.

Review the visa requirements for each country you’ll stop in to make sure you can enter when you arrive.

Read: Cruise Travel Documents & Requirements

Contact Banks & Get Local Currency

Woman exchanging dollars for euros

Let your bank know you’ll be traveling to a different state or country before your cruise to avoid debit or credit card freezes. Many banks have an online system where you can input your travel dates, or you can call the customer service line for each card/account you’ll access while you’re on vacation.

Another item you should check off your pre-cruise to-do list is to get local currency for each of the countries you visit (if they don’t accept your home country’s currency). That way, you won’t have to spend time in port looking for ATMs or money exchange services.

Create Your Packing List

Couple carrying luggage on a cruise

One of the great things about a cruise is that your transportation and accommodation are one, so you only have to unpack once. Thanks to onboard laundry service, there’s no need to overpack.

Read: Cruise Tips for First Timers

People hanging out by the pool

Regardless of your destination, be sure to pack a swimsuit, so you can take advantage of the swimming and soaking opportunities in the pools and hot tubs onboard.

Bear in mind that T-shirts, swimsuits, and other pool wear are not allowed in the main or specialty restaurants at any time, and shorts and flip-flops aren’t permitted in the evening. Jeans are okay any night as long as they don’t have any rips or tears.

Most nights on Celebrity Cruises, the dress code is smart casual, which means khakis or jeans and a sport shirt for men, and casual dresses or pants (including jeans) or skirts and blouses for women.

People hanging out at Crush bar on Celebrity

On Evening Chic night, you can dress up your way. Women can choose from a cocktail dress or a skirt, pants, or designer jeans with an elegant top, while men may wear pants or designer jeans with a dress shirt, button-down shirt or a sweater; a sport coat or a blazer is optional.

If you prefer dressier attire, that’s okay too, but it’s not a requirement. So feel free to leave those tuxes and evening gowns at home—or not!

Don’t worry about trying to remember which night is which. Celebrity Today, the daily newsletter delivered to your stateroom and available at the Guest Relations Desk, will be your guide to the correct attire each evening.

Couple relaxing inside Penthouse Suite on Celebrity

Other things you might not know are prohibited on board are items like hair dryers, curling irons, candles or open flames of any kind, and clothing irons. If you’re worried about wrinkled clothing, you can look into bringing a wrinkle spray or leaving your outfit in the bathroom of your stateroom during a shower; the steam will help alleviate wrinkles. Otherwise, avoid packing fabrics that wrinkle easily.

While Celebrity allows two bottles of wine per stateroom (a corkage fee will be assessed if you drink it in one of the restaurants), bringing any other alcohol onboard is prohibited.

Start Planning Your Excursions & Adventures

There’s nothing like the anticipation of a vacation. Why not prolong the excitement with a little pre-cruise research about your destinations?

Beach in Bermuda with turquoise waters

Explore our port guides, which contain critical information about each port like top sites and attractions, best things to do, restaurant/cuisine recommendations, ways to get around, local culture and history, shopping, and currency and tipping customs.

While you’re at it, peruse shore excursions and add a few to your itinerary. From private, premium experiences to fitness- or family-focused adventures, shore excursions offer great opportunities to experience the very best of each port of call.

Vendor at a street market in Paris

Excursions range from tours of historic landmarks to adventures on catamarans, boats, or kayaks. You have the option to cherry-pick your vacation activities based on what interests you most, from farmers’ market tours for foodies who want to live like a local, or hop-on, hop-off buses for travelers who want to see it all.

Read: Answers to All of Your First-Time Cruise Questions

Get To Know Your Ship

Theatrical onboard entertainment

If it’s your first time on a cruise, you can explore the ship from your laptop or computer on our website, where you’ll find detailed deck plans for each ship in our fleet. You’ll find there’s no shortage of entertainment, bars, lounges, or fine dining restaurants for you to explore.

Spaces on board were designed specifically for gathering together, whether you’re seeing a live show, marveling at a performer as they twist and flip at Eden on Celebrity Edge, or dining al fresco at the Lawn Club Grill.

People playing bowling at the Lawn Club

On sea days, depending on the ship you’ll be cruising on, you can brush up on your basketball, pickleball, ping-pong, or golf-putting skills, join a friendly game of croquet or bocce at the Lawn Club, or play pool volleyball with ship officers.

Make Specialty Restaurant Reservations

Onboard, you’ll be able to choose from an abundance of onboard dining options, both complimentary and specialty. If you are trying to get a seat at the hottest specialty restaurants however, you’ll want to make a reservation before you sail.

Family eating at Le Petite Chef

Venues inspired by France, Italy, and Greece bring you tastes of the Mediterranean, while creativity is king at immersive food experiences like Le Petit Chef, which is the perfect interactive activity for families and groups. For seafood lovers, restaurants like Sushi on Five and The Porch Restaurant bring you the freshest catches and raw bars at sea.

Pencil In Your Spa Appointment

People relaxing at Persian Garden Spa with amazing water view

Massages, beauty treatments, and wellness consultations at The Spa fill up quickly, so you’ll want to consider making an appointment early or as soon as you book your cruise.

Full body wraps, manicures and pedicures, salon services, and more are all available, but you’ll have limited options if you wait to pencil in your pampering until the last minute.

Stock Up On Medication

Woman packing a medical kit into her suitcase

Be sure to pack enough of your prescription and over-the-counter medications to last your entire trip. There is a medical center on every ship, but there’s no guarantee that the medication you require will be available. Better safe than sorry!

And if you’re sailing to a warm destination, don’t forget to pack sunscreen. SPF lip balm is also handy for sunny vacations.

Pack A Day Bag For Embarkation Day

Family relaxing by the pool

You’ll be separated from your main luggage during embarkation day—it’ll conveniently be sent straight to your room—so packing a bag with a few essentials is a smart move.

You’ll have access to your stateroom upon boarding with Celebrity Cruises Open Access, so you don’t have to worry about packing too much and lugging your carry-on around before your room is ready. Your carry-on may include a few toiletries like deodorant or fragrance for a refresh, an outfit change if you want to head to the pool after getting settled, or a backpack with items to keep the kids entertained. Whatever you normally pack in a personal item on an airplane is probably appropriate for your day bag.

Gather Electronic Devices & Chargers

Couple taking a selfie by the fountain

Whether it’s your phone, a tablet, your camera, or an eReader (or all of the above!), you’re going to need to keep your devices charged, so make sure to pack your chargers.

Depending on your destinations and power needs, you may want to bring along an adapter that will allow you to charge your phone when you go ashore.

While you’re packing, throw in a day pack or small bag for toting items like your camera, a water bottle, and sunscreen around the ship or in port.

Check In Online

People hanging out over drinks at the Sunset Bar

You can check in online or through the Celebrity app up to 24 hours before your cruise. Checking in online expedites the boarding process so you can get your vacation started sooner. Explore the ship, unpack your luggage, or lounge at the pool—there’s no one way to start your first day on a cruise ship.

Now that you know how to prepare for a cruise, browse cruise itineraries on our website and plan your next vacation today.

Free Vacation Planning Services

Free Vacation Planning Services